I don’t usually do anything special for Halloween, but this year was a little different. We decided to have a Halloween party for my nephew the day before Halloween. He is only two and a half, so this was his first Halloween that he knew what was going on. So much so that he refused to wear his costume (it was a cute little skeleton outfit as well).
I loved seeing his face when I arrived as a cat and his confused response of “What are you doing Auntie Emma?” to my cat make-up.
Even Shaun the Sheep made an appearance!
We all had a great time at the Halloween party and maybe next year my nephew will want to dress up.
Gavin DeGraw at O2 Ritz Manchester
The following day my boyfriend and I drove down to Manchester as we had tickets to see Gavin DeGraw at O2 Ritz.
It was a tense day and not because it was Halloween and everyone was dressed up as the living dead. We had a deadline and a long car journey to make from Central Scotland to Manchester in order to make the show that night. We couldn’t miss Gavin DeGraw performing at O2 Ritz Manchester.
The weather was against us most of the way with torrential rain and thick fog. Not what we needed, but that’s typical British weather for you.
Arriving at O2 Ritz Manchester
Eventually making it to our hotel and quickly finding somewhere for dinner we made our 5-minute walk to the venue. Walking up, or should I say rolling up to the venue about 30 minutes after doors opening was a little worrying. I’ve had bad experiences like this in the past, so it’s always a concern for me now. They recommend arriving for doors opening if you are in a wheelchair to ensure you get a good view of the stage etc.
We didn’t have to worry as one of the security men happily approached us before we even got to the door and asked if we were going in. He let us in the side door and we instantly felt at ease as he chatted to us and explained what would happen once we got properly inside the auditorium.
Escorting us through the crowd of excited Gavin DeGraw fans and straight to the barrier at the front of the stage. We were shown where the accessible toilet was and taken to another security man who’d be taking care of us for the rest of the night.
This was great! We were only in the venue a few minutes, but already we were so pleased with the service from the security staff at O2 Ritz.
Accessibility at O2 Ritz Manchester
In fact, the great service started during the ticket booking process. The website has lots of great accessibility information and even when I called the venue I was pleasantly surprised to hear a pre-recorded message advising customers with disabilities what they need to do. I purchased one ticket online and emailed the name of my companion to the venue to arrange the free carer’s ticket.
Having a good website and recorded telephone information saves time, money and hassle of calling numerous numbers and being put on hold. We’ve all been there and it ain’t good.
We were taken over to the other side of the barrier away from the crowd as my view of the stage was going to be obstructed by speakers at the designated space for wheelchairs.
This gave us a side view of the stage with no one else around us apart from another two wheelchair users and their companions. The accessible toilet was right beside us too. We were so close to the stage. It was amazing.
The lights went down and the band burst through the side door and walked up to the steps onto the stage just a few feet from us. My heart started to race at this point. Would the man himself, Gavin DeGraw come through that very same door and walk right past us.
Seconds later he appeared through the doors. Breathe Emma…I told myself! I couldn’t believe he was so close to us and I definitely wasn’t expecting what happened next.
Instead of walking on stage he comes straight over to say hello with a huge smile on his face, puts his hand on my shoulder and asks how I am. He then said hello to the other two girls beside me. This was the highlight of the night and so unexpected. What draws me to Gavin DeGraw is how incredibly genuine, humble and talented he is.
It was ‘An Acoustic Evening with Gavin’ so all the songs were stripped back making it a special night. He never missed a ‘trick’ providing us with lots of musical ‘treats’ and giving it his all as usual. This really was a great way to spend Halloween.
Final Thoughts on O2 Ritz Manchester
This was my first time at O2 Ritz and definitely won’t be my last as I found it completely accessible for my needs and I’m sure it would be for other disabled customers too.
The only negative about this venue is the sound from the designated wheelchair area at the side of the stage. This is due to the positioning of the speakers facing out into the crowd, which muffles the sound for people at the side of the stage. It was especially difficult to hear when Gavin was talking and telling stories about the songs etc. Having a speaker angled towards the side would solve this problem.
The security staff were completely on the ball at the end of the show making sure myself and the other disabled customers were okay and ready to leave. Once at the door, they asked if we needed help once out on the street. They were all helpful, attentive and friendly from beginning to end. It’s great they are proud to be working with Attitude is Everything and it’s very evident in the way they treat their disabled customers.
Holiday Inn Express Manchester City Centre
We booked one night at Holiday Inn Express Manchester City Centre for our time in Manchester. It was a perfect location with only a 5-minute walk to the venue. Our room was an accessible room on the 9th floor so we had a great view of the city, which was good for people watching especially dressed up for Halloween (floor-length windows made it perfect for this). The room was nice with plenty of space for moving around in my wheelchair and a desk which I was able to roll under with no issues.
The bathroom was a good size, which more or less suited my needs apart from the small sink. I find it incredibly difficult to use a small sink in hotel bathrooms as I cannot get close enough or even under the sink. The only option is to sit side on and that would involve twisting my back and leaning over, which is also not manageable or ideal. There was a roll-in shower with a fixed shower chair on the wall.
Apart from my issue with the bathroom sink, I also had major problems with the bed. I only managed to get 2 hours of sleep because the bed was so hard and uncomfortable. It was an unpleasant and painful night that I don’t want to relive. It’s especially difficult when you have limited movement while lying in bed. Please Holiday Inn Manchester CC get comforter beds as the rest of your hotel was great.
How did you spend your Halloween?